What’s the standard? Service and what it means to your clients

Financial Advice

Have you ever reflected on what other people really think about your customer service? It’s something I think about often. I believe good service means good relationships. When clients are being serviced well, in a way that suits them, you’ll build deeper connections and long-lasting relationships.

Some interesting research by Salesforce[1] last year revealed that 84% of customers globally say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services – and 66% are willing to pay more for a great experience.

Things that seem small in the big scheme of your day or week can mean a lot to others, and will influence your client retention – and whether they’ll refer you to their friends and family.

These things can be as simple as making the effort to call them back, emailing them by COB like you said you would, and even spelling their name correctly. It sounds like the very least you can do… but think about how many times this didn’t happen for you and how it made you feel.

Have you ever thought about doing your own Service Standards Health Check? Here are some practical ideas to help you perform a self-assessment on your business.

Develop a strategy

If you’re passionate about client service, it’s important to get everyone in the business on board and operating at the same level. I would recommend implementing a service strategy that defines critical service standards – what would you want upheld as a minimum? These don’t only apply to things with a time frame: consider whether you offer everyone walking into your office tea or coffee, calling clients on important days like birthdays or anniversaries, or taking note of how they prefer to be communicated with (email rather than phone, for example). Setting a good base line gives you the perfect springboard to exceed your clients’ expectations.

Do what you say you’ll do in the timeframe you say you’ll do it

It’s as simple as that. The amount of respect you’ll earn from people for meeting deadlines is worth its weight in gold. Whether it’s a time critical decision, or just a promise to get back with the information they need, following through on your word proves that you’re committed and you’re giving them the time they deserve.

Put yourself in your client’s shoes – how would I feel about this interaction?

Would you be happy with being treated the way you treat your clients? If the answer isn’t a resounding yes, you’ve got some work to do. Putting yourself on the receiving end will make you look at your business from a different perspective and pick out the little things that might be slipping through the cracks. It provides a chance for honest reflection and is a good exercise to do with your whole team.

Be visible when they need you, but also when they don’t

If there’s something a client specifically needs you for, they’ll call you. But often clients appreciate a check-in when they’re not waiting on you for something. Try picking up the phone to ask how they’re going, or touching base at a challenging time where they might need your support. If the market is having a bad month or two, being visible and offering an ear that will listen shows that even though the road is rocky, you’re there to help them ride it out. This builds more trust and a stronger relationship.

Take responsibility for your actions

Everyone makes mistakes; it’s how you handle them that shows what you’re made of. Take ownership and just handle it quickly, efficiently and sensitively. Your clients will think more of you if you’re up front and offer a resolution quickly, rather than shifting blame. They will know you’re honest, proactive and determined to achieve the best outcome in any situation.

Be consistent. Service everyone with the same level of care

No matter who you’re speaking to or how big their portfolio is, everyone should be treated the same. That’s what I want my reputation to be built on, high standards across my entire client base. There are certain tweaks and nuances that come into play when you get down to individual people, but from the first interaction you want everyone to feel they’re your top client.

Ask them what they think

If you’re not sure how you’re tracking in terms of service, you can ask your clients what they think with a simple survey. This is a great way to obtain useful information from the people that matter most. Online ratings or other similar benchmarks can be skewed either positively or negatively, because you’re usually extremely motivated one way or another to write a review. With a survey you can decide what questions you want to ask and really hone in on what improvements can be made.

Your client is paying for a service package with tangible activities and outcomes. But it’s the human element you bring to the experience that keeps them coming back. By acknowledging the importance of quality service and developing a standard for your business, you’re setting yourself up for lifelong clients, glowing referrals and the satisfaction that you’re doing the best for yourself and your business.

[1] State of the Connected Consumer, 3rd edition Salesforce 2019